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Draft  | State Preview  | 5/24/2011

State Preview: Texas

Allan Simpson      David Rawnsley     
Photo: Rice

In the weeks leading up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will list the state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as well as providing mini-scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players.

Texas State-by-State List

Texas Overview:
Injuries to Rendon, Purke Take Shine Off Crop, But Texas Will Still Be Fruitful

The anticipated draft script for Texas hasn‘t gone according to plan this spring, but the state should still make its customary major impact on the draft nonetheless.

Historically, Texas has been either the second- or third-highest producer of talent in the draft, flip-flopping those positions on occasion with Florida. Both states lag far behind California. This year had a chance to be a little more special than normal for Texas, though, especially with the presence of Rice junior third baseman Anthony Rendon and Texas Christian sophomore lefthander Matthew Purke at the top of the draft board.

Ever since breaking in as a highly-productive freshman in 2009, Rendon was targeted to become the first overall pick in this year’s draft. The same lofty status was reserved for Purke from the moment he turned down a first-round offer from the home-state Texas Rangers in the 2009 draft. Both players, however, have been impacted most of the 2011 season by nagging shoulder injuries, throwing their draft options squarely into question.

Rendon was supposed to merely solidify his status as one of the first two picks overall, by simply coming close to duplicating his sterling performance in his first two years at Rice. But his shoulder issue has robbed him of bat speed at the plate, while relegating him to mainly a DH role in the field. He could conceivably still go 1 or 2 overall, but it has been a difficult spring for the 2010 national player of the year.

Although some falloff in production was to be expected anyway because of the significant change in bat standards in college baseball, Rendon went from averaging .391-23-79 in his first two seasons at Rice to very-pedestrian .323-5-33 numbers during the 2011 regular season. Depending on how teams evaluate the health of his shoulder, he could become a wild card, at best, in this draft, although it would be a major surprise if he fell too far.

In peak condition, Rendon has superior hitting skills with a quick, lively stroke and power to all fields. He also has a very advanced approach to hitting with a keen strike-zone awareness. He is equally at home at third base as in the batter’s box, with first-step quickness to both sides and a strong, accurate arm. A year ago, he committed just five errors—an exceptional total for a college third baseman.

Even as he has been a mere shadow of his old self this spring, Rendon still has commanded more respect than any player in the college game and drew 76 walks (in 56 games) during the regular season, far and away the best total in the NCAA Division I ranks.

An even bigger Texas wild card in this draft is Purke, the 14th overall pick in 2009. He went 16-0 as a TCU freshman and is eligible for the draft this year because he is a 21-year-old sophomore.

Purke came out of the gate this spring with noticeably lighter stuff than his customary 95-97 mph fastball and dazzling slider, plus a lower release point than he had previously shown. He was shut down early in the season by a blister problem, and eventually shoulder pain that caused him to miss several starts. He finally returned to the TCU rotation on May 19, and it remains to be seen how well he’ll pitch in the days leading up to the draft.

A healthy Purke, with his vintage 2009-2010 stuff, would be a definite top 5 lock. What happens between now and June 6 is almost anyone’s guess.

While the injuries to Rendon and Purke have taken some of the shine off this year’s Texas draft crop, not all has been lost. Six-foot-5 University of Texas righthander Taylor Jungmann has been as dominant this spring as any college pitcher in the country, while Texas A&M righthander John Stilson has only escalated his draft value by moving from an all-star closer in 2010 into the Aggies rotation.

Dallas Jesuit High outfielder Josh Bell has also clearly separated himself from the pack at the high-school level. In fact, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound switch-hitter may now have the best combination of power and present hitting tools of any prep player in the country. Bell’s name should be called in the 10-20 area of the first round.

Perhaps more than any Texas prospect, Jungmann has solidified his status as first-round pick. With a 12-0, 0.95 record, along with 109 strikeouts and just 66 hits and 23 walks allowed in 114 innings, he is a leading candidate for national pitcher-of-the-year honors. He has combined plus raw stuff with even better command and pitchability.

Jungmann would almost certainly break into the top-five picks nationally in a normal draft year, but the adundance of premium talent could bump Jungmann back to the 8-12 pick range. If there is a knock in his repertoire, he has a little more violence in the upper half of his delivery than desired.

College pitching overall has the strongest concentration of talent in the state, and that’s reflected in the dominance on the mound by traditional Big 12 Conference powers Texas and Texas A&M.

Led by Jungmann, and the surprising performance of freshman closer Corey Knebel (2-2, 1.44, 16 SV), the Longhorns lead the country with a 2.21 team ERA. Texas A&M ranks fifth at 2.49, in large measure because of Stilson (5-2, 1.68) and a second top junior prospect, Ross Stripling (12-2, 1.89), a projected third- to fifth-rounder. The wealth of pitching talent at A&M hardly stops there as 6-foot-6 sophomore righthander Michael Wacha is yet another potential first-rounder in 2012.

In addition to Texas and Texas A&M, Texas Christian, Rice and even Texas State give the state at least three more teams that have shots at both reaching the 2011 College World Series and producing a pitcher in the draft before the start of the second round.

Texas and Texas A&M are clearly pitching-based teams that sometimes struggle to score runs, but TCU has a deep, well-balanced team with at least two position players (outfielder Jason Coats, shortstop Taylor Featherston) and two pitchers that could go in the top 4-5 rounds.

Purke (5-1, 1.44 in 43 IP) has been effective for the Horned Frogs when he has been able to pitch, but the job of staff ace has been held most of the spring by junior righthander Kyle Winkler, who has elevated his draft stock into the sandwich-round range with an outstanding 8-2, 1.40 record, along with 13 walks and 98 strikeouts in 90 innings.

Rice also harbors CWS ambitions, though it has been hurt by injuries, notably to Rendon and its other top position player, center fielder Jeremy Rathjen, who was sidelined after 16 games with a torn ACL. A very young pitching staff that features two talented freshman righthanders, Austin Kubitza and John Simms, has carried Rice, though lefthanded closer Anthony Cingrani (3-2, 1.92, 10 SV) has quietly emerged as one of the best college seniors in the entire draft with a fastball that has reached 95-96 mph in short bursts.

Texas State could also make its presence felt before the 2011 season is said and done, especially with the presence at the front of its rotation of 6-foot-5 junior righthander Carson Smith. He has produced an 8-3, 1.98 record (95 IP/114 SO) with a fastball in the mid-90s.

Texas is usually synonymous with big, hard-throwing high-school pitchers with first-round type ability, but that is not the case in 2011. This draft may mark only the second time in the last decade (2008 being the other) that Texas does not produce a first-round high-school arm. Over the last 10 years, the state has produced 14 such pitchers.

Sherman High righthander Kyle Crick could well be the only prep arm picked in the top three rounds, depending on how his signability plays out. On ability, he is more of a sandwich/second-round talent after moving quickly up draft boards this spring.

The lack of premium high-school pitching talent is especially evident among lefthanders, although late-rising southpaw Adam Choplick could change that perception. Choplick has one of the more-interesting backgrounds in the country as the 6-foot-9, 245-pound athlete is a high-level basketball player (district player of the year, 17 ppg/10 rpg) whose pitching career was put on hold in 2010 because of Tommy John surgery.

After a quicker than expected recovery, Choplick has been very impressive in the last month of the 2011 season. He threw a 71-pitch perfect game with 16 strikeouts in the Texas state playoffs, even while operating on an 80-pitch limit.

The Texas junior-college ranks held out high hopes last fall for producing more than their share of top pitching prospects in this year’s draft, especially with the return of San Jacinto lefthander Miguel Pena and Howard righthander Damien Magnifico, and the infusion of talent from four-year schools like Angelina righthander Ian Gardeck (Dayton), Howard righthander/outfielder Derrick Bleeker (Arkansas) and Navarro righthander Drew Verhagen (Oklahoma).

But none of those five arms quite measured up to expectations this spring. Gardeck still has the best chance of being drafted highest among that quintet—mainly on the strength of a fastball that registers 95-98 mph. But it didn’t work out for Gardeck as a starter early this spring, and he struggled with his control most of the remainder of the season in a closing role. As a result, he is considered more of a candidate for the third or fourth rounds, not the sandwich to second.

Pena and Magnifico were both unsigned fifth-round picks out of Texas high schools in 2009. Pena won 15 games for San Jacinto JC as a freshman, while leading that team to a second-place finish at the Junior College World Series. He followed up with a 10-3, 1.91 record this spring. Pena is a very polished junior-college arm, but his winning ways over the last two years do not appear to have won over Texas area scouts, and he may go no higher than he did a year ago (Padres, 13th round). Magnifico missed most of his freshman season with a stress fracture in his elbow, and worked just 21 innings this spring as he continued to rebound from the injury.

Bleeker (13 innings) and Verhagen (24 IP) were used sparingly this spring, as well, and their prospect values have nosedived, although the athletic 6-foot-6 Bleeker has drawn interest as a position player.

The places of those two pitchers among the elite JC talent in Texas have essentially been taken by their own teammates as Howard freshman righthander Connor Sadzeck (7-3, 3.56) moved up to become the state’s No. 2-ranked JC talent, mainly on the strength of a fastball up to 97 mph; Verhagen has been replaced by righthander Tyler Mapes (10-2, 1.37)), who pitched his team to a berth in the Junior College World Series, along with a second Texas team, Grayson County.

Texas in a Nutshell:

College pitching, high-school bats.
WEAKNESS: High-school pitching, especially lefthanders.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 4.

BEST HIGH-SCHOOL TEAM: Fort Bend Clements HS, Sugar Land.

Kyle Crick, rhp, Sherman HS. Any number of Texas high-school prospects have been moving rapidly up draft lists this spring (Denton Ryan LHP Adam Choplick, Crosby RHP Jeremy Gabryszski, Clear Creek OF C.J. McElroy, Leander OF Michael Reed, Irving SS Trevor Story, Lufkin RHP Gandy Stubblefield, to name a few) but Crick has moved the furthest. His velocity has jumped to 95 mph with a potential plus slider to go with it.

Adam Smith, 3b/ss, Texas A&M. Smith still has huge tools, including well-above average arm strength and raw power. But his regression as a hitter (.209-4-18, 129 AB/50 K’s) has put him on the Aggies bench and made him strictly a speculation pick for teams that think they can fix his swing.

WILD CARD: Matthew Purke, lhp, Texas Christian University
. Purke fits every possible definition of a wild-card draft, between his injuries this spring (blister, shoulder weakness), to his status as an unsigned first-rounder in 2009, to his late return to the mound this spring, to the short window it will give scouts to re-evaluate him. Purke did throw three encouraging shutout innings May 19 in his first post-injury appearance, pitching at 89-93 mph.

Burch Smith, rhp, University of Oklahoma (attended high school in Tyler, junior college at Howard JC).
TOP 2012 PROSPECT: Michael Wacha, rhp, Texas A&M University.
TOP 2013 PROSPECT: Austin Kubitza, rhp, Rice University.

Draft History: David Clyde, lhp, Westchester HS, Houston (1973, Rangers/1st round, 1st pick); Matt Anderson, rhp, Rice University (1997, Tigers/1st round, 1st pick).
2006 Draft: Brad Lincoln, rhp, University of Houston (Pirates/1st round, 4th pick).
2007 Draft: Kevin Ahrens, ss, Memorial HS, Houston (Blue Jays/1st round, 16th pick).
2008 Draft: Andrew Cashner, rhp, Texas Christain University (Cubs/1st round, 19th pick).
2009 Draft: Matthew Purke, lhp, Klein HS (Rangers/1st round, 14th pick).
2010 Draft: Jameson Taillon, rhp, The Woodlands HS (Pirates/1st round, 2nd pick).

Best Hitter: Anthony Rendon, 3b, Rice University.
Best Power: Josh Bell, of, Jesuit Prep, Dallas.
Best Speed: C.J. McElroy, of, Clear Creek HS, League City.
Best Defender: Brandon Loy, ss, University of Texas.
Best Velocity: John Stilson, rhp, Texas A&M University.
Best Breaking Stuff: Taylor Jungmann, rhp, University of Texas.


(Projected ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)

1. ANTHONY RENDON, 3b, Rice University (Jr.)
Dominant in 2009-10, sore shoulder hindering 2011 (.323-5-33), still inspires fear (76 BB/56 G), + defender.
2. TAYLOR JUNGMANN, rhp, University of Texas (Jr.)
Dialed back velo for + command, professional approach, spots 91-95 FB, + SL/CH, 12-0, 0.95, 114 IP/109 K.
3. JOSH BELL, of, Jesuit Prep, Dallas
6-3/205 frame, huge power potential, legit switch-hitter (.588-13-52), + instincts, CF now, corner in future.
4. JOHN STILSTON, rhp, Texas A&M University (Jr.)
++ dominant closer in 2010, + starter in 2011 (5-2, 1.68, 91 IP/92 SO), 92-95 FB, + CH/CU, calmer delivery.
5. MATTHEW PURKE, lhp, Texas Christian University (So.)
2009 first-rounder/2011 draft mystery; blister/shoulder issues hamper stuff, delivery issues (5-1, 1.44, 44 IP).
6. TREVOR STORY, ss, Irving HS
Potential 5-tool SS, 6-2/175, + projects; 6.74 runner, ++ arm strength (96 mph pitching), + bat speed/power.
7. KYLE CRICK, rhp, Sherman HS
+ improved in 2011; 89-91 FB last summer/92-95 this spring, sharp mid-80s SL, sound delivery/pitchability.
8. KYLE WINKLER, rhp, Texas Christian University (Jr.)
5-11 bulldog RHP; + consistent as collegian (27-6 career); 91-94 FB w/sink, + low-80s SL/CH. + command.
9. MATTHEW DEAN, ss/3b, The Colony HS, Highland Village
Paired with Story (No. 6) by scouts; Dean more physical, + power/6.81 speed, + defender, very agile athlete.
10. C.J. MCELROY, of, Clear Creek HS, League City
Son of Chuck, ex-LHP; ++ athlete (track/FB standout), 80 speed/MLB scale, RH bat/sound swing, LF arm.
11. CARSON SMITH, rhp, Texas State University (Jr.)
Big 6-5/215 frame, low-¾ release, 91-95 FB, big power SL, shoulder question, but 8-3, 1.98, 95 IP/114 SO.
12. BRYAN BRICKHOUSE, rhp, The Woodlands HS
Same HS as Taillon (No. 2/2010); 90-93 FB, + 80-83 SL; effort in release/inconsistent stuff, strong UNC tie.
13. LOGAN VERRETT, rhp, Baylor University (Jr.)
Solid 3-pitch mix (89-92 FB/T-94, SL/CH), commands/mixes well, mature approach (6-4, 2.78, 87 IP/85 K).
14. ANTHONY CINGRANI, lhp, Rice University (Sr.)
Blossomed in bullpen as SR (3-2, 1.92, 10 SV), + velo jump to 95-96, improved CU, much better arm action.
15. BRANDON LOY, ss, University of Texas (Jr.)
++ defender, polished/very sure hands, 6 E in 2011; bat improved (.327-1-22, 27 BB), contact-type approach.
16. BROOKS PINCKARD, rhp/of, Baylor University (Jr.)
4th-yr JR, split opinion on worth, + late stint as starter; 92-95 sinker, better command; starting CF, ++ speed.
17. RICARDO JACQUEZ, rhp/ss, Franklin HS, El Paso
Slight 5-9/160 frame, but ++ arm; FB sits at 93-94/T-97, hard CU; also quality SS prospect, but so-so bat.
18. IAN GARDECK, rhp, Angelina JC (So.)
Dayton transfer; ++ arm strength, FB 93-96/T-98, flashes + SL; raw mechanics/command, reliever profile.
19. JOHN CURTISS, rhp, Carroll HS, Southlake
Profile 6-4/190 frame; + downhill angle on 90-94 FB, sharp 76 CU, SL/CH, complicated delivery, + student.

(Projected HIGH-Round Draft / Rounds 4-10)

20. MICHAEL REED, of, Leander HS
5 solid tools (6.7 speed, 90-mph arm, + RH bat speed, some power), plays hard, Aaron Rowand comparison.
21. TAYLOR FEATHERSTON, ss, Texas Christian University (Jr.)
Live-body MIF, offensive potential/pop in bat (.347-3-38); profile SS tools but 24 errors, may end up at 2B.
22. JASON COATS, of, Texas Christian University (Jr.)
Jason Bay-like 6-2/190 frame, approach, tools; + bat speed/power potential (.324-8-52). + 2010 Cape season.
Fast riser; + projection at 6-4/190; loose/fast arm, FB touches 94-95, raw mechanics, CU/CH still developing.
24. ROSS STRIPLING, rhp, Texas A&M University (Jr.)
Pounds zone with 88-93-mph sinker, good CU/CH; 6-3/190, + improved (12-2, 1.89, 95 IP/22 BB/97 SO).
25. KYLE KUBITZA, 3b, Texas State University (Jr.)
Profile 6-4/190 3B frame; power approach (.303-7-55), patient (44 BB); + arm but erratic fielder (22 E).
26. BRYSON MYLES, of, Stephen F. Austin University (Jr.)
Power build (6-0/225), ++ speed (50 SB), ex-FB star; + bat speed (.413-7-33), though stiff/rotational swing.
27. DILLON THOMAS, 1b, Westbury Christian HS, Houston
David Justice comparison (6-2/195); + strong/loose/powerful LH swing; + arm strength, corner OF; athletic.
28. COLE GREEN, rhp, University of Texas (Sr.)
Fourth-rounder in 2010; same pitcher, different results (11-2, 2.74 vs. 6-3, 3.11), + command, + 3-pitch mix.
29. CONNER SADZECK, rhp, Howard JC (Fr.)
6-5/195 RHP has upstaged other big Howard arms (7-3, 3.56); + inconsistent, but 92 FB/heavy sink when on.
30. SAM STAFFORD, lhp, University of Texas (Jr.)
High-ceiling talent, plagued by inconsistent delivery/command, FB up to 94, flashes + 12-6 CU, also SL/CH.
31. HUNTER LOCKWOOD, c, L.D. Bell HS, Bedford
Strong/quick-twitch athlete (6.7 runner, + power/lift in swing), 16 HR leads Texas 5-A ranks, solid defender.
Athletic at 6-3/200; inconsistent velo (84-88 vs 89-93 start to start), flashes + CU, also CH, has elbow history.
33. MATTHEW RECKLING, rhp, Rice University (Jr.)
Flashes + stuff (FB to 94, sharp SL), but delivery rough, inconsistent command; 4-1, 2.90, 68 IP/44 BB/84 K.
34. KELBY TOMLINSON, ss, Texas Tech (Jr.)
Rangy 6-3/175 SS, + range/soft hands/enough arm; + speed, slashing/gap bat, + approach (.303-1-42, 20 SB).
35. MIGUEL PENA, lhp, San Jacinto JC (So.)
Same player as 2010, when won 15 G for San Jac; crafty LHP, easy arm, ++ locates 88-91 FB, breaking stuff.
36. CHRIS McFARLAND, ss, Lufkin HS
+ 6-1/195 athlete; 6.6 runner, strong/+ bat speed, tough SR season, struggled on D, CF future, Rice recruit.
37. CHASE WEIR, rhp, Stephen F. Austin University (Jr.)
Ex-OF, lot of unknowns; late pop-up as RHP (2-1, 3.30, 30 IP), flashes 93-94 FB, 86-87 SL, lacks command.
38. PARKER FRENCH, rhp, Dripping Springs HS
++ fast arm (90-93 FB/touches 95-96, hard CU), max-effort delivery; ++ tough sign/commitment to Texas.
39. CODY GLENN, lhp/1b, Westbury Christian HS, Houston
Brandon Belt comparison; 6-4/185, low angle on 88-91 FB, big/sweeping CU; some like LH bat better/+ pop.
40. ADAM CHOPLICK, lhp, Ryan HS, Denton
Massive frame (6-9/245), + BKB player, fast comeback/TJ surgery (spring/2010), upper 80s FB, + command.
41. TYLER MAPES, rhp, Navarro CC (So.)
Ex-Navy RHP has size issue, but ++ quick arm, 94-95 FB; led Navarro to JC W/S (10-2, 1.37, 91 IP/90 SO).
42. ADAM SMITH, 3b, Texas A&M University (Jr.)
++ raw tools (power, arm); swing needs overhaul (.205-3-17, 122 AB/49 SO), challenge for pro coaching.
43. JEREMY RATHJEN, of, Rice University (Jr.)
Big 2010 (.317-13-69), tore ACL in March (.295-1-18), 6-5/190 build, + power, speed for CF, arm for RF.
44. MARK BLACKMAR, rhp, Temple JC (Fr.)
Son of PGA golfer Phil Blackmar; draws mixed opinions, but can + pitch/locate 86-90 FB, devastating cutter.
45. COLTEN BREWER, rhp, Canton HS
2-way player earning + late interest with sinking 92-94 FB (8-1, 1.36, 57 IP/86 SO); no break ball; easy sign.
46. WAYNE TAYLOR, c, Memorial HS, Houston
+ strong LH bat, pull/lift approach, big HS power numbers; + arm strength, also star QB, Stanford signee.
47. STEVEN MAXWELL, rhp, Texas Christian (Sr.)
5th-yr. SR (TJ in 2008); 12th-rounder in 2010; 89-93 FB, + CU; + command, mature arm, 16-2 last 2 years.
48. NICK FLEECE, rhp, Texas A&M University (Sr.)
Ex-OF, premium SR sign; late surge with heavy FB at 93-95, + SL, + command (5-1, 1.46, 37 IP/7 BB).
49. PATRICK LEONARD, 3b, St. Thomas HS, Katy
Transfer from Florida HS; 6-3/200, RH power bat, strong arm, 6.8 speed in 60, University of Georgia signee.
50. SKYLER EWING, c, Arlington HS
Powerful build (6-1/215), but loose/quick for size, + RH power/lift in swing, solid defender, + strong arm.
51. DERRICK BLEEKER, rhp/of, Howard JC (So.)
Intriguing 2-way talent, big power in 6-5 frame, but struggles to hit; + upside on mound with mid-90s FB.
52. BRANCE RIVERA, of, Texas Christian University (Jr.)
6-3/190 former SS; + bat improvement, extra-base power, 6.6 runner, CF potential, hit .333-7-32, 14 SB.
53. GAGE GREEN, of/c, Rider HS, Wichita Falls
++ versatile athlete, plays all positions; + LH bat speed, gap power; 6.9 speed suited for OF, ++ arm to catch.
54. ZACH GOOD, of/lhp, Grayson County CC (Fr.)
More hitter than pitcher in HS, but lightning-quick arm, + command suited for mound; has ++ 2-seamer/CH.
55. NICK LEE, lhp, Weatherford CC (So.)
Big strides on mound since 2010; thrown more strikes with 88-92 FB, ++ CH, 2 breaking balls (5-4, 2.80).
56. BRADEN MATTSON, c, Clark HS, San Antonio
+ athlete in 6-3/195 frame; 6.59 speed in 60, ++ raw power, + arm; raw/defensive swing, maybe CF in future.
57. DUSTIN KELLOGG, rhp, Caney Creek HS, Houston
Smooth delivery/+ downhill angle for 6-4/190 RHP, FB 89-91, projects +velo, flashes + downer CU, no CH.
58. DRAKE ROBERTS, ss, Brenham HS
Smaller MIF (5-9/160) with surprising pop; + competes, flashy defender, + arm strength, + speed/quickness.